STOR-AGE FALSE BAY SURPRISE DURBELL
by Jon Harris
STOR-AGE False Bay RFC delivered another surprise when they beat a powerful Durbanville-Bellville (Durbell) at Durbanville on Friday night. The final score was 21-11 after the teams changed sides at 8-8.
Expected to be a physical battle between two vaunted packs, the contest did not fail to live up to expectations. The forward battle was titanic with no quarter given in the first half and the hosts the first to flinch in the arm wrestle. Behind these packs opposing backlines stood back for no one, matching the physicality of their beefier vanguard and here again, the Bay held their nerve to come out tops.
It was a match crammed with sheer intensity, excitement and effort. It comprised of two evenly matched teams squaring up to each other in a contest of beef, braun, brains and bravery. It was at times riddled with errors, but even the commitment of these mistakes was made with an unbridled intensity or capitalised upon with a hunger to succeed.
STOR-AGE False Bay suffered a major disruption an hour before the team gathered when first choice flyhalf Andri Claasen withdrew because of flu, necessitating adjustments to their halfback combination with Ridhaa Damon shifting to pivot and Darren Rix starting his first match at scrumhalf.
The intensity never waned throughout the eighty minutes, from the initial shrill whistle to the end. The packs literally threw the kitchen sink at each other, hitting the rucks and mauls with an aggression and force which was felt in the stands, not at all an untoward aggression but a controlled physicality which is every coach’s dream.
The Constantia team opened the scoring when centre Angelo MacKaiser converted a penalty. Minutes later the home side struck back with a well executed move off a scrum to score a touchdown, the ease of which had the visiting support more than a little worried. Fullback Raymond Olivier failed to convert but succeeded with a penalty soon afterwards to extend his team’s lead.
The Bay refused to panic and instead stuck to their structures. Their forwards were engaged in a war of attrition with their esteemed opponents, a contest in which the Constantia outfit reigned supreme through their depth in positions and their superior fitness. Their backs defending against the big runners coming through the centre of the backline as is the Durbell pattern of play.
Shortly before the break flank Lukhanya Nomzanga crashed over for a try and the teams shared first half spoils.
STOR-AGE False Bay are in the enviable situation of possessing a surfeit of top front row forwards and their strategy of playing the heavier combination of SP Blakely, Vlam van Vuuren and Frankie Charlie to tire the opponents out, worked perfectly. After the break the relative whippets Wesley Chetty, Dane Jans and Jonny Simpson entered the fray and the Bay proceeded to speed the game up. Jans suffered a blow to the head soon after entering and van Vuuren needed no encouragement to take his place, the fire still burning fiercely in his belly.
As the intensity of Durbell forwards waned, False Bay took greater control of the game. Locks Michael Poppmeier and Graham Knoop dominated the lineouts, winning some of the opposition’s throw ins, tackling, rucking and mauling more than effectively to deliver a report card of which the coaches would be proud. The loose trio of Nomzanga, Justin van Winkle and Ryan Olivier began to dominate, their ability complimenting each other and their execution dovetailing to a perfect combination.
At the back Rix settled down after taking a beating from the opposing forwards in the opening quarter to become more than a nuisance around the ball. He turned over two critical balls, his service to Damon was reliable and he began to snipe around the edges to create scoring opportunities, especially for speedy wing, Taliep Johnson who scored another try to add to his impressive collection for the season.
Damon, true to the class player he is, marshalled the game well at flyhalf and the Bay backs, having suffered the loss of Danie Roux through injury, were determined to match the efforts of their forwards and not allow themselves to be spectators, often exceeding the commitment of the boys up front and setting the bar just that little bit higher. Roux’s departure saw the return of veteran Marc Davids and he made his experience count. Centre Jaques van Staden had moved to wing and he posed a threat on attack to the home defences, in this position and his starting one of centre.
Knoop scored a try to extend the Bay’s lead to ten points and the travelling support began to believe victory was possible.
The hosts were in no mood to succumb that easily and launched multiple attacks at the Bay defences, each time met with defence more resolute than the last. Olivier reduced the lead to 7 with a penalty, not only giving his team a losing bonus point but also a chance to snatch a draw.
Referee Joey Salmans allowed play for an extra nine minutes in the second stanza but the Bay stood fast, refusing to allow their lines to be breached. With a minute to go, the visitors were awarded a kickable penalty and Damon stepped up to stroke it through to rob the hosts of the bonus point. MacKaiser was left to wonder why he had been detailed these duties when considering Damon’s skill in execution. In his defence, he more than made up for his errant goalkicking with his all-round commitment on the ball and to his team’s cause.
“This was a good away win indeed”, said False Bay coach Jonno van der Walt, “and the big scalp we were looking for.
“Our focus has been game by game. We play Tygerberg next and we will plan for them as we did for Maties and Durbell and any other team we will face this season”, he said with a modest determination.
For Durbell fullback Raymond Olivier, centre Jason Kriel and scrumhalf Deon Theart shone. False Bay’s squad excelled but special mention should be made of eighthman Ryan Olivier, who is in top form. Replacement loose forwards Andrew Whittaker and Brent Stevens made the impact required and prop Chetty showed deft hands and a willingness to carry the ball.
False Bay has a bye this weekend and host Tygerberg at Constantia on Saturday 31st May.